“Black women are dope because they rise and are yet rising. This dopeness is not hyperbolic or symbolic—rather, it is borne of persecution that has failed to frustrate a perseverant persistence to prevail.”
Before sea to shining sea. Before spacious skies were pierced by purple mountains. Before the uniting of one nation. Black women learned to rise. In POWER: THE RISE OF BLACK WOMEN IN AMERICA, award-winning journalist and digital media executive Charity C. Elder posits that there has never been a better time to be a Black woman in the United States.
POWER is an incisive disquisition on Black womanhood weaving theoretical frameworks of history and sociology with poignant interviews, ethnographic observation, and anecdotes gleaned from history, social media, pop culture, and the author’s lived experiences.
Using data, the author substantiates the triumph of Black women. Original analysis of eighty years of US census data, prepared by the University of Minnesota and analyzed by Dr. Constance F. Citro, documents the remarkable ascension of Black women since the early twentieth century. An exclusive national survey conducted in partnership with the Marist Poll in 2021 not only reveals that 70 percent of Black women say they have been successful in life, but also that most believe they have the power to succeed.
POWER does not shy away from the realities of structural oppression identified by the late Black feminist scholar bell hooks; rather it illuminates how Black women exercise agency to create meaningful lives. Success is not an anomaly, but a defining characteristic. Black women have amassed power—now, Elder posits, they need to acknowledge it and then wield the hell out of it.
"I wrote POWER for Black women, particularly younger generations, and those yet to come. I intentionally share stories and data of triumph to inspire Black women to discover and pursue their own unique purpose in life. My greatest hope is that this book encourages Black women and propels them forward."
Charity C. Elder is an award-winning journalist and media executive with twenty-plus years working and leading in broadcast and digital newsrooms, as well as a lecturer at Fordham University’s Department of Communication and Media Studies. Selected in 2017 and profiled for NYC Media’s Vanguard: Women in Media, in 2016, she was named on Folio magazine’s list of top women in media. In 2020, she served as a senior adviser to the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign––––advising and strategizing ways to engage the Black community.
Prior to joining the Bloomberg campaign, Elder was the Head of Video and Podcasts for Yahoo News, leading an award-winning team of innovative producers redefining news in the era of immersive journalism. She also worked for more than a decade, as a television news producer, at Emmy award winning morning shows at both CBS News and NBC News. A Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Trinity College and a Master of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism from New York University,
Elder serves as a Board of Fellows for Trinity College and on the Jeremiah Program’s National Governing Board of Directors, a non-profit that aims to break the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children two generations at a time.
POWER centers data, from an exclusive national survey from The Marist Poll and new analysis of the US Census and to substantiate and document the remarkable ascension of Black women in the United States. Both data sets explicitly transform negative normative conceptions of Black women by recognizing achievement and acknowledging their power to create meaningful lives.
The Marist Poll
In partnership with The Marist Poll, POWER reveals the results of an exclusive national survey that asked Black women to answer questions about the state of Black women in the United States today.
To ensure a representative sample of Black women, the poll was conducted in two stages in October 2021 –a phone survey representative of the US national adult population and an online probability panel survey of Black Americans. The Marist Poll findings show that Black women are optimistic about the future and confident in their ability to bring their dreams and goals to fruition.
OF BLACK WOMEN SAY THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL
OF BLACK WOMEN BELIEVE THEY HAVE IT WITHIN THEIR OWN POWER TO SUCCEED
OF BLACK WOMEN AGREE THAT ACHIEVING SUCCESS & RECOGNITION IN THEIR JOB OR CAREER IS REALISTIC
OF BLACK WOMEN THINK IT IS A GOOD TIME TO BE A BLACK WOMAN IN AMERICA
OF BLACK WOMEN SEE THEMSELVES AS SOMEONE WHO HAS A HIGH SELF-ESTEEM
US Census & American Community Survey Data
New analysis of eighty years (1940-2019) worth of data from the US Census and American Community Survey proves the rise of Black women. The data was gathered and tabulated by the University of Minnesota and analyzed by Dr. Constance F. Citro, senior scholar for the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The data shows that over an eighty-year time span Black women ages twenty-five to sixty-four, saw high rates of growth in real median wages (1000%), the completion of four or more years of college (1900%), and employment in professional/managerial occupations (700%).
These data are a subsample of the IPUMS USA data available from usa.ipums.org. The data file is intended only for replication purposes. Individuals are not to redistribute the data without permission. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for redistribution requests. Any use of these data should be cited as follows: Steven Ruggles, Sarah Flood, Ronald Goeken, Megan Schouweiler and Matthew Sobek. IPUMS USA: Version 12.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2022. https://doi.org/10.18128/D010.V12.0.
“Power is the right book, with the right message for right now. It is an important book that shatters stereotypes and proves for the first time just how far Black women have come. Beautifully written, Power is a story of resilience and hope. I recommend that every Black woman, all women of color, read this book.”
—Minda Harts, Workplace & Equity consultant and bestselling author of The Memo
"In this compelling debut, Elder pens a meditation that celebrates African descended women’s everyday strength, resilience, and determination to succeed, along with their expressions of joy, love, and excellence in a world that isn’t always just. Elder writes about the ways “Black women be knowing,” which goes beyond the typical narrative of depravity wrought by white supremacy and reveals elements of truth-telling that happens at the nexus of Blackness and womanism.
—Yndia Lorick-Wilmot, sociologist and podcast host of Talking Journeys of Belonging 2 Blackness
“In Power, Charity C. Elder provides a captivating case for the dopeness of Black women. Daring to reconsider past and contemporary realities beyond the gaze of oppression, Power uses soul stirring narratives and empirical data to illuminate our historical rise and shares fresh theories for how Black women manage to thrive in a twenty-first century context.”
—Timeka N. Tounsel, author of Branding Black Womanhood: Media Citizenship from Black Power to Black Girl Magic
“Power is the bouquet of flowers Black women have long deserved—an acknowledgment of all we have overcome and all we have achieved in spite of unparalleled challenges. It never shies away from the reality of the hardships we continue to face today but it gives us a moment to exhale at last. To reflect. To heal. It made me feel seen, and I know so many of my fellow sisters will feel seen as well.
—Mandi Woodruff-Santos, award-winning cohost of Brown Ambition and founder of the MandiMoney Makers